If you have meetings at work, and who doesn’t, this might sound familiar:
People trickle in to the meeting knowing that it never starts on time because you have to wait for the one person who is chronically 15 minutes late to every meeting. The first third of the meeting is taken up by status updates that could have been better shared via email. By the time you get around to the actual agenda items for discussion, most people have begun doing other work, checking their email, using social media or simply daydreaming. The meeting runs past its scheduled time and all the unresolved items get tabled for the next meeting. You leave feeling like there were 101 more productive ways you could have spent your time.
Studies suggest people believe that 30 – 50 % of the time they spend in meetings is wasted. Give that in some workplaces, meetings actually take up as much as 50% of the work day, that’s a lot of unproductive time.
Here are some mindful strategies to increase productivity in workplace meetings:
Be selective about scheduling
Meetings are intended to bring people together for discussion, collaborative thinking, problem-solving and strategic planning. There should be a clear purpose for a meeting and an expected outcome. Think carefully about the need for a recurring meeting. Use other forms of communication that would work as well, or better than a meeting.
Set an intention
Pause before you enter a meeting and take a moment to mindfully focus your attention. Make a conscious decision to leave whatever you have been working on previously so you can pay full attention to the meeting agenda. Decide what quality you want to bring into the room – curiosity, contribution, collaboration.
Start and end meetings on time
Meetings that start late and run long are one of the biggest complaints. It doesn’t take long before they quickly become a bad habit. Keeping on time not only demonstrates respect to the people attending the meeting, but it is also a tangle way to value time as a resource.
Begin meetings with focus.
This could simply be a few minutes in silence focusing on breathing to allow people to bring their full attention to the meeting, or it could take the form of a short inspirational reading. Invite people to do whatever they need to do to make the shift to being fully present in the meeting space.
You can’t pay attention to what is going on in the meeting if you are trying to do other things at the same time. Unplug for the duration of the meeting. If the meeting is not worth your full attention, then either the meeting format has to change or you might as well use your time elsewhere,
Remember all agenda items matter
It’s easy to mentally check out of a meeting if you decide the current agenda item does not apply to you. Shift your thinking and recognize that all agenda items apply to organization and that means that they apply everyone. That doesn’t mean that you have to actively participate in the discussion if it is not directly applicable to your work, but you do need to stay engaged in the conversation. It’s one way to begin building a “we” rather than “me” culture
Listen for understanding
Often we are listening for rebuttal purposes rather than listening for understanding what the other person is saying. Instead of thinking about your next comment, give the speaker your full attention.
Ideally in order to implement some of these suggestions there needs to be a collaborative conversation with those who attend the meetings. Be bold. Put “How to have more mindful meetings” on your next agenda and start the conversation. However, if that is not feasible, you can still make some of these changes to your own behavior in order to mindfully increase your own productivity.
What is your best tip more making meetings more productive?
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